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Pansy hisses in pain as the gash on her left shoulder stings with the impact of Apparition.

Lestrange,” she grunts, clasping a hand over the wound that is bleeding enough to wet the entire sleeve of the shirt she's wearing — and yes, she borrowed it from Ginny Weasley; Pansy doesn't own shirts. “You non-trusting, disgusting, vile mother-fucker!”

A small voice in her head reminds her that the sordid Death-Eater had, actually, been correct in not buying her grovelling about where her actual loyalties lay. Oh, well. Luck wasn't on her side, then. But he is a disgusting, vile mother-fucker, alright. And anyway, how was she supposed to predict that Bellatrix Lestrange's husband will turn out intellectual enough to see through her façade? No one has really ever been able to. Blaise's mum hasn't really ever been able to! And, moreover, Draco had told them all about how he'd been able to pull that up once, about three years ago, when the forces had been fighting off on the Hogwarts grounds.

She should have believed Boy Wonder when he'd interrupted Draco's story with a snort and, ‘you're really gonna terminate my role in saving your arse that once, from this tale, Malfoy?' she realizes. That, or Voldemort is training his force extensively.

Sighing, she grips her wand firmly in her left — and non-dominant — hand and lets a begrudging note of thanks to that black-haired, black-skinned, half-blooded Gryffindor — Dean Thomas — slip into her tired, battered, frustrated brain. He'd played Boy Wonder in her replication of Draco's foolish ploy, and Pansy'd escaped the scene with merely a parting gift from Lestrange. And she had been thankful, for real, then. Lestrange was aiming for nothing less than a kill, she knows; his lunatic better—or worse, maybe?—half rubbing off on him, probably.

Now, though, it hurts like shit, and Pansy reflects whether Apparating away from the Battlefield had really been a genius choice to make. For all intents and purposes, she could've Splinched herself and landed in a much worse shape than she has.

But that was before she'd Apparated; decisions made, now she's half-sitting, half-drooping next to a couch, that stinks badly of fungi; decaying, moist wood; that Muggle nuisance called tobacco that Prude-Extraordinaire, Granger, preaches against whenever Daphne and Theo smuggle some in; and all of this filthy foulness is topped with that choking stench of smoke which is continually absorbed into the covers from the fireplace — and she's sporting merely a cut on her shoulder. She grimaces and hastily pushes away from the piece of furniture when she tries to take a cleansing breath. Because, damn it all, the 'cleansing breath' is going to pollute her respiratory tract instead of cleansing it!

And she can bloody hear the howls of that damned blazing thunderstorm out there, and she can't even leave and go off to her own permanent residence. Because the Floo connections have been cut off for the past three years, and if she attempts to Apparate one more time, she's going to bloody well lose her arm!

She inhales through her clenched teeth as she pulls her feet from beneath her thighs, rearranging them to sit back on her lower legs. Then she is frowning fiercely as she grips the armrest of that sodden, freaking couch with her right hand—letting her wound leak rivulets of blood down the length of her arm—and launches herself into a standing position.

Then she groans. Aloud. “Salazar's bloody arse, this shit hurts!”

She clenches her eyes shut, and tries to focus on thoughts of those fresh, warm, sunny days — which have nothing to do with the moist atmosphere of this room she's landed in, or the blasting chill of that freaking rain, and the associated storm which is fucking raging outside — back in the gardens at the Parkinson family estate, where she and Draco used to loiter about with hands entwined. That had been after their Fourth Year, as she recalls, when they'd come back after spending some real quality time back at Hogwarts — what with the Yule Ball and festivities. She'd really thought that they were going to last after that. They were grown-ups — him already fifteen, and her coming around in the next two months — after all, and had been at least a bit logical while getting together.

Pansy blearily cracks open her eyelids. Draco isn't what she'd wanted to think of, but — oh, well.

She sighs. It's not that she isn't over him. It has been three, bleeding years ever since that supposedly final battle at the school grounds; since that snake — Nagini — escaped from the grasp of the Order, that is, rendering their fight against Voldemort himself, quite useless. And those times with Draco had been before their Fifth Year — that is two more orbits of Earth. She can't even begin to make a list of all that has happened since then.

So, it's like, yes, she has moved on. In a way. She'd have to be freaking Severus Snape in love with–with Potter's mum — she forgets her name — to not have. But, that's not what this is about. She sees people romancing all around here at the Order, and her heart weeps. She is not jealous, per se; she just envies them.

A door creaking open somewhere deep in the house jolts her back to present. She realises that she has got a bitter taste in her mouth, and swallows it away.

There's nothing to be scared about the sound—no reason to be wary of someone probably loitering about this house while the lot of them have gone battling, though. This one is a very well-guarded safe house that the Fidelius Charm has been properly cast on. Well, it makes sense because this is the one that houses the Boy Who's Still Alive. And as an intensified safety measure, when the residents of this safe house go off for a mission, they have a rule of leaving a person behind.

This person must have sensed her magical signature passing through the semi-permeable apparition wards. And so she pushes her shoulders back, ready to defend herself if they decide to mock at her reason for fleeing the fight. She does need medical attention and any taunts can go fuck themselves for all she cares.

“Who's there?” a voice echoes from down the corridor that connects the dining room to living room she's in. “Tonks, is that you?”

Pansy scowls. They left him back, again? Sure he's a precious gem — their only hope if they aim on defeating Voldemort, so to say — but this is unfair, to be honest.

The ambush they'd carried out, last week, had been sans Harry Potter, too! He didn't have to be held back from battling a troop headed by Rabastan Lestrange, at least. They didn’t know that his brother would go ballistic, did they? Now that she thinks of it, though, Pansy is torn between appreciating Tonks' thoughtful leadership, and being jealous of Potter because he didn't fall in the way of Rudolphus Lestrange's curse.

Then, the next moment, she's furious. First, the sod doesn't freaking go to the battle, then he has the audacity to hope that they'd be done in an hour?

Pansy marches into the corridor, hissing a Lumos as she points her wand at Potter's face. “No,” she snarls, “it isn't her, Potter. You see, the battles we indulge in — especially the ones that you're, left out of — don't really wind up in an hour,” she spits, tauntingly.

He is squinting, trying to lean back from the blob of light that she's pushed right into his nose. “Parkinson?” he croaks, tilting his head this way and that to glance at her face from around the wand light. “Is it you?”

She sniffs, haughtily, pulling her wand away from his face. “Lumos Maxima.”

Potter blinks, taking a step away as his forehead crinkles with the sudden illumination enveloping the corridor. “What on earth—” he sputters, taking another step back as his eyes rake over her, widening with every little displacement of his gaze. “Parkinson… you… th–this is—” He shakes his head, looking at her face again with a frown. “What happened?”

She rolls her eyes, though she has to grind her teeth to hold back the wince of pain that's trying to push its way out. “Your concern is really flattering, Potter,” she snorts after a moment, and watches his lips purse, thinning into a line as his expressions transform from that slight shock-slight worry mix to outright irritation, but she can't care less. “Now, what? Are you going to lift me up—all the way to the infirmary?” she sneers.

Potter narrows his eyes so much that she can barely make out the distinct vertical strips of white and another dark colour that she can't catch in the dim light that has enveloped them—but knows, from memory, is green; "he's got his mother's eyes,” is a statement as famous as Harry Potter himself—from the slit that his eyelids have thinned his eyes to. “With pleasure,” he purrs in fake-sweetness.

Before Pansy can even blink, let alone finish the gasp in reaction to his response, and her feet are already off the ground, followed by her legs — then her waist is tilting in a horizontal stance, and she can't speak, or think, or even breathe through the blood pounding in her ears, because Potter has—

Wait.

She blinks twice. Then, three times. And, surely, she can't feel the pressure — warmth, even — of his arms and body that must be there, seeing how he's held her—

She frowns as she hears him snicker, and sharply glances to her left where the git is… standing away?

She gapes, changing the angle of her head as she tries to get a better look. Then his wand catches her eye and she groans, again.

“What the fuck, Potter? Why are you levitating me!?” she shrieks.

Potter smirks smugly, shrugging a shoulder. “You asked for it.”

“Bloody hell, Potter, put me down!” Her voice is taking on a shrill pitch, and this bastard is still bloody grinning at her expense!

Silencio.”

She sputters, mouthing everything that he's shushed with his spell. Then he curtseys, and begins to walk down the corridor, Pansy's levitated self in tow.

They cross the dining room in silence. Well, not that she can speak, anyway. Nonetheless, she is preoccupied in pushing her right palm against the gaping wound that has lost so much blood that she's in immediate need of a blood replenishing potion.

Potter is then leading them towards the secluded corner of the room where, as she knows, a staircase leads down to the basement. He punches at the switchboard on the wall, next to the top-most stair, and the entire flight of stairs brightens by the glow of a Muggle incandescent ‘bulb'. For the life of her, she doesn't know what those things are.

He walks up to her, rotating her body to align the flat of her soles with the ground before casting a silent Finite Incantatum. She breathes out as her feet touch solid ground again.

Then she, experimentally, clears her throat, which makes him stop at the sound and look over his shoulder.

Her eyes narrow. How dare he manhandle her like that? She inhales deeply, preparing her lungs for the verbal abuse that she's about to bathe him in—

“Don't,” he commands, sternly. And she… well, doesn't. She is too astounded, actually, to react. “Say a word, Parkinson, and I'm silencing you again.”

She hesitates, as she really doesn't want to test her luck with a pissed off Potter; it seems that her hesitation is all the inspiration he needs to turn back around and start climbing down the staircase. Numb from the pain, she falls in step after him.

The staircase is so damn ancient that the sound of their footsteps freaking ricochet! Not that she's spooked out, or something. She has been fighting in a damn war, and—oh, she has a fucking wounded shoulder to worry about! Of course, she isn't afraid of a children's book ghoul popping out from the tattered wood of the stairs her belle-flats are tapping lightly against.

Speaking of, she takes a closer look at the really decaying teak that makes up the floor the two of them are walking on. She knows this had been a Muggle residence before they made it a safe house, but, for Salazar's sake, it has been fifteen months since this place was discovered! A few repairing charms won't have been that difficult, would they have?

This shitload of absolutely-good-for-nothing people—well, maybe good for nothing except fighting off Death Eaters—

“Parkinson?”

She jumps as she is rather ruthlessly pulled out of her inner monologue. Potter is frowning at her, and—

They've reached the basement.

She scowls at him, clutching at her wound, as she shoves into his upper arm with her uninjured shoulder — because, well, she can't quite reach up to shove into his shoulder — and walks past him in search of the door to the Infirmary.

He snorts after her, but she ignores him. She's too busy holding her breath against this rotten part of the otherwise almost impeccable safe house. She actually hates the basement; In her opinion, it's a damp place, almost as cold as the Slytherin dungeons back at Hogwarts, and even stinks at times.

The only merit she can see right now, though, is that the Infirmary is kept really clean and devoid of any odours, whatsoever. At least she wouldn't have to clip her nose up while the only other person in this house, albeit a really dumb git, heals her injury.

Her wounded arm bears her wand which is not quite shaking by the effort. Only a little. At least she can see where she's going—

“You've missed the target, captain,” that dumb git drawls in a smug voice from a few feet behind her.

—or maybe she can't?

Her scowl intensifies. Turning on her heels, she locates him pointing his wand-light at a placard pasted on the wall above a surprisingly unscathed door, which reads, clear as day, ‘INFIRMARY'.

She grunts under her breath and walks back to him, passing four other rooms on her way. Is she actually that ignorant? Perhaps.

She taps her feet, mostly to just annoy the hell out of him, while he says some incantation, in Latin, to unlock the door.

“Patience, princess,” he murmurs under his breath, fumbling with the Muggle lock and key.

“Arsehole,” she hisses back, keeping it under her breath.

He shoots her an amused look, and then gives the door an inward jerk. “Something you'd like to say?” He makes a show of examining his wand, and she grits her teeth.

She has her own wand, yes, but isn't foolish enough to believe that she can beat his reflexes. He has had freaking Voldemort residing in his head for years. He's better experienced, without second thoughts., even if she wasn't sporting this injury that has made her wand- handling clumsy.

She doesn't ponder over that, though, and gives him a sugary smile instead. “I said, what a gentleman you are, Mister Potter. Thank you!” His lips pursed and his eyes narrowed, he walks into the room, while she smirks after him.

“Alright,” he announces, flicking his wand to turn on the Muggle lighting system in the room. “Sit your arse on one of these beds, while I search for Essence of Dittany, around here,” he says, scanning the shelves in room for the potion, probably.

Is this guy even for real?

“Can I say something?” she questions, fake-civilly.

“Uh-huh,” he absent-mindedly murmurs, sticking his head into a cupboard.

She finally concludes that this particular room has, in fact, been repaired if not fully renovated, given how prim and proper even the bedside tables are. “You're a wizard,” she, then, says, patronizingly. He gives her an irritated look. She shrugs, biting the inside of her cheek to hold back laughter. “And… you know how to cast an Accio.”

His eyes widen and cheeks colourize, before he looks away with an awkwardly cleared throat, which makes her break out into unladylike peals of laughter.

Accio Dittany,” he says, pointing his wand at the cupboard. There's a faint cluttering of glass bottles knocking lightly into each other as they shake, seconds before Essence of Dittany lands neatly in his open palm. “Good.”

Pansy sighs.

He gives her another sharp glare. “What?” he growls.

“Oh, nothing.” She waves off a dismissive hand. “I'm tired, is all." She lets out a fake yawn, which would flare his temper, without a doubt.

He rolls his eyes, however, and points to a bed. She just holds herself back from sticking her tongue out at him, and complies.

But, as she drops her bum into the plush mattress, panic seizes her. The place that Rudolphus Lestrange has torn open runs from the left outer edge of her collarbone, and goes all the way around her shoulder to end right above the dip of her armpit. She stiffens. She isn't wearing a chemise, and she's so not planning to sit in her bra before Harry buggering Potter!

He probably notices her wary glances at his approaching figure because his scowl deepens. “I'm here to heal you, Parkinson. Don't give me those suspicious glances,” he comments, pulling up a mediwizard stool to settle next to her.

She gulps, then, feeling nervous for the first time ever in Harry Potter's presence.

His face relaxes as he busies himself with uncapping the Dittany, while she fumbles with her wand, trying to recall if there's some spell to put on a spaghetti top between two layers of one's clothing. She bites back a whimper. Then, summoning all of her courage, looks back at him, and clears her throat.

He clicks his tongue. “Not comfortable enough, princess?” he mocks her, sarcastically.

She is agitated, really agitated, and she blames her next action on that. Completely. “Listen up, Saint Potter,” she snaps, which causes him to look at her with hiked eyebrows, clearly surprised. “You may enjoy this, getting–getting some sick, sadistic fun out of it—but I, clearly, am not thrilled about sitting here in my freaking push-up, giving you a show, while you bloody seal my wound!”

His mouth falls open and eyes immediately — probably involuntarily — drop to her chest. She feels her cheeks heating up as his gaze lingers. “What?” he squeaks in a feeble voice, before looking up into her eyes, wearing a rather apprehensive expression.

She clears her throat again, a frown marring her forehead as she looks everywhere but at him. “I, uh… I didn't mean to–I didn't mean it to come out like… that,” she explains with a grimace.

“No,” he shakes his head, dazedly looking at her. “Did you really go into the battlefield wearing a push-up bra?”

She gasps, looking at his snickering face in pure outrage. “You–you son of a… Harry fucking Potter, you take that back!” she screeches, and got up, aiming her wand at him while he limps out of her range, obviously not wanting to get physically harmed by her. “You take that back, now!”

He clutches his waist, doubling over as he gasps for air. “Jesus, this is hilarious!” he breathes out. “Who were–who were you trying to impress, Parkinson? Rabastan?” He bursts into another laughing fit, while her cheeks freaking burn.

Because, not all of it is embarrassment, now.

She clenches her teeth hard, preparing for the really cheap blow she is about to deliver, that will surely shut him up for the remainder of the evening. “Oh?” she says, airily. “Says the boy who got dumped by a Weasley. Yeah, that's rich.”

As she'd known it would, all the laughter dies in his throat. His face straightens for a moment before his lips curl into the sneer that she has come to get really well acquainted with, over the years. “Don't go there, Parkinson,” he bellows, and she just holds herself from flinching back by the vigour of it. “It was your slut of a best friend who ruined our relationship,” he spits, hitting home.

Pansy hops off the bed, keeping her wand firmly in her uninjured hand as she gnashes her teeth. Her eyes flare in fury. “Don't say a word against Blaise, Potter,” she hisses, “when you know shit about what he's made of. You won't understand half the amount of love he has for that girl, for Merlin knows what awful reason! And—”

And,” he cuts her off, taking a furious step in her direction, “this is rich coming from the girl who got dumped by a Malfoy,” he snarls.

She scowls, chucking off the mental image of herself and Draco roaming about the grounds in Parkinson estates, back in their mid-teens. “Yeah? And it wasn't your best friend who wooed him away, huh?”

“Oh, no, Parkinson, it wasn't.” He laughs, coldly. “Hermione would never stoop that low. Because she'd never hurt us! And you have no idea how hard it has been for Ron to get over—”

“Has it?” she scoffs. “Because from what I know, that Patil girl, the one from Ravenclaw, has been taking good care of him, hasn't she?”

What?” he utters in disbelief, before shaking in head in what she can assume is disappointment from the Boy Who Is Going To Save Their World. “Padma is–they're friends, Parkinson. Never heard of ‘friendship', have you? It's a foreign concept in Slytherin, I know, so, maybe—”

Enough!” she finally screams. And — shit — is her voice cracking? Damn, she doesn't want to break down before this class-A dunce, but, hell, all his blows are hitting home! “You–you think we don't know what friendship is?” she hisses, jabbing an accusatory finger into his chest — not really sure who's moved, and when, to cover the distance between them. “Right, that should be true, shouldn't it? I mean, that is why we — me, Blaise, Theo, Daphne and her little sister — we supported Draco and freaking followed him into–into this death trap, the side of the good people in this war, huh?”

Potter watches her with a curious look on his face, his mouth opening and closing while he keeps shaking his head at intervals. Pansy knows what he’s looking at. She had feared he would get to, tonight, and she had been right. Now, though, she simply wipes those treacherous tears away from her cheeks.

“Malfoy?” Potter mumbles, then. “You all—it was him who instigated your changing sides?”

Pansy conveniently ignores him, because she isn't fucking done yet! “You think we're inhumane, don't you? Us—the Slytherins,” she sneers, and feels really, viciously happy when he grimaces. “We don't have morals, don't have emotions, yeah? You're absolutely correct, Potter!” She lets out a fake gasp, clutching at her chest in faux surprise. “Because, come on, Slytherins always have a scheme, eh? A bloody game plan for every hell of a thing we do! Narcissa Malfoy had a plot in her head when she persuaded Draco to join this Order… There is some trick behind Draco falling in love with Granger and Blaise falling for your on-again, off-again girlfriend! And there's certainly something devious involved in my having a conversation with the–the Chosen One, because that is how Slytherins work, isn't it?” she is yelling, she is aware, but that isn't quite soothing her boiling rage. And the way Potter is still fixed on a grimace, simply looking at her, is not helping at all. “What?” she snaps. “Don't lie, Potter, I know that's what you freaking think!”

She is breathing really hard as she slumps down onto the mattress. Potter sighs, sounding weary. Then he looks away, pursing his lips before sighing again and letting his face drop into proper resignation. “I… Not all of what you said is true, okay?” he begins, his voice small in comparison to her outburst. “You–you people have been ruthless, Parkinson, all your life! Can you really blame us for being wary?”

He is trying to calm her down, she notices. But she shakes her head. “We both know that it isn't about all our life, Potter,” she says quietly, yet confidently, because she knows she is right. “This–this lack of faith on your people's side? This has materialized out of Draco's Dark Mark, and…” She pauses, faltering. Then she takes a breath and meets his expectant, though hesitant gaze. “And a seventeen-year old girl not hesitating before asking for the death of a fellow seventeen-year old boy for her own life's sake,” she finishes, revelling in the way his eyes widen.

“No, no,” he mutters, blinking rapidly. “That–that… incident,” he winces at the noun he used, “isn't what all of this animosity's about…” He frowns, pausing uncertainly as he looks away again.

She scoffs. “No? Well, then maybe it is what most of this animosity's about?” She rolls her eyes when he begins to shake his head. “Oh, save it, Potter. Everyone knows how McGonagall is still holding grudges against me for that little… incident.” She raises her brows, pointedly. “And even you can't deny that it gives you — if not all, as you said — then really a lot of reason to hate me.”

His lips twist. “I don't need a reason to hate you, Parkinson.”

She smirks. “Oh? Feelings mutual, then. Neither do I.”

“Oh, I know all about that,” he says, something serious flashing behind his teasing exterior. “You've got every right to be envious. What do you have that I don't huh? Just a gigantic mansion to call your own, endless Galleons in your Gringotts vault,” he continues sarcastically while ticking off his fingers, “all sorts of tricks up your sleeve to woo boys, loving parents who become prouder as you get more spoilt—” Though he has begun to sound bitter, by this point, she tunes the rest of his rant out.

He has hit home again. She briefly wonders if he has to try at all—if pricking her wounds really comes naturally to him.

Then she shuts her eyes, biting hard on her lower lip to prevent those words from penetrating her walls.

loving parents who become prouder as you get more spoilt

loving parents

Loving parents.

She swallows past the enormous lump residing in her throat. “You think you had it the worst, don't you, Potter?” she asks, her voice hoarse from the effort of keeping her emotions in check.

He stops his rant, though she doesn't open her eyes to read his face. Then he sighs. “Why?” he barks, tartly. “Do you have perhaps other opinions?”

She opens her eyes to fix her gaze on her hands. One of them is bloodied — and she realizes with a start that the ache in her shoulder has reduced to merely a dull throbbing in the wake of this verbal sparring.

“Well?” he prods.

“My mother was a Death Eater,” she begins, ignoring the echoing gasp the Gryffindor lets out, who would never understnd what it has been like to be on her side. “And a woman that Vol–that You-Know-Who,” she corrects, remembering the taboo just in time, “had kept for himself — to be of service whenever he needed her to be. His wh–whore if you will,” she adds in barely a whisper. He inhales sharply, the sound of his dropping onto the opposite bed echoing in the silent Infirmary.

“And–and he had some sort of… dark potion administered into her, that prevented her from ageing. She was, essentially, twenty years old all her life.” She bites her lip again, reflecting how she is herself of that age, now. “My father had met her by chance at some dinner party held at one of the richer pure-blood families, and fell in love with her. She didn't, though.” She frowns, as vibrant images of her mother's diary flash through her mind. “But, Caleb Parkinson was a very persuasive man back then. He followed her around, everywhere she went. She had no option at the end, but telling him about her… connections,” she spits, “with You-Know-Who. Father wasn't bothered by any of it, however. He promised her that he'd free her from that crazy wizard's clutches, and asked her to marry him. She was moved. Though, she didn't really love him, but she still agreed to marry him.”

She takes a breath before she continuing.
“Then she got pregnant. Not that it was a bother, really, because she was away from You-Know-Who's radar, as it is. But that delayed their wedding, anyhow. She wanted her baby to be safely out of the way before she did something drastic with her life...” Pansy sniffles as her eyes brim. “They waited till–till I was born — which was a week before you were, by the way,” she adds, causing his frown to dissipate as his brows shoot up. “Then, they got married. Just the next day.”

Pansy sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose as she realizes that the wedding had been the very last entry in her mother's diary. “And then she was killed,” she finishes flatly.

Potter shoots to his feet, his brows fiercely furrowed. “What? Your–your mother was… killed?” he asks in disbelief.

“That's what I said, isn't it?” she snaps, glaring at his towering form.

“No… I mean yes, just that I never–you don't have a mother?” he exclaims as if the concept is too foreign for him.

Pansy blinks at the irony. One would expect Harry Potter to be less surprised by the fact that a person has grown up to their twenty years of age without a parent — seeing as how he has without any!

“It isn't her that I mourn, though,” she says, instead. “All I've ever known about her has come from her journal. Or my father's drunken recollections.”

She stares as he takes a step back to settle on the bed again.

“You don't know how lucky you are, Potter, that you do not know who your parents were,” she tells him. “I have seen my father die—every day. I've seen him drown himself in alcohol — drown himself in the misery that You-Know-Who's gifted him with.”

He shakes his head. “Not sure if I agree—”

“Oh, but you do,” she corrects him with a knowing smile. He looks strangely at her lips and she suddenly remembers that they both don't trade smiles; so she purses her lips into a line. “Tell me, honestly, whom do you really miss the most? Sirius Black? Dumbledore? Moody? Even Cedric Diggory? Or, your parents?”

He looks away, frowning into space.

She sighs. “It's hard to acknowledge, Potter, because they're your parents, but the truth is that you really only miss those that you have actually known in your life. They are actually the ones that you crave to get back once they're snatched away from you. Your love for people that you've never even seen in your life, can't—” She winces, cutting herself off, as a jet of pain shoots up her left palm — bursting into a pool of searing agony as it reaches her shoulder.

“You–you need something for that, Parkinson,” she hears him mumble. She simply nods, gnashing her teeth as the pain grows in intensity. “Okay, okay... calm down, alright?” he commands, sounding panicked. “I'm going to cut off a portion of your shirt, okay?”

She does feel like stopping him, but all the sound she is capable of producing is practically a series of broken, breathless whimpers, so she refrains.

She hears him murmur a Diffindo, and shivers when icy cold air comes in contact with her bloodied shoulder. She faintly notices how he's strategically scooped out cloth along with the left sleeve of her shirt, making it seem as if the garment is merely off-sleeved.

“Here,” he murmurs, positioning the bottle of Dittany to let a drop—

Potter!” she shrieks, blindly reaching for something to clutch her hands in, as fire erupts from where the git has dribbled that sordid potion on her wound. Her hand finds the front of his shirt, and she, fists it.

“Hush,” he shushes her, lightly patting the elbow of her injured arm. “We're there, just a few more drops—”

She shrieks again, screwing her eyes shut as her body twists in response to the wave of stinging pain rolling through her. Then he cradles her; wrapping his arms around her waist — which seems like a peculiar action, really, because she can't feel his hands against her back — and his chin has come to sit on the top of her head while he murmurs, whispers, soothes

Relax, it's done… we're done. You're healed, Parkinson, there's no more pain — we're good, yeah? You–you are fine. Are you listening? Can you hear? Do you understand? Parkinson? You are okay.”

Then she shudders, gasping for breath, and — crying, actually weeping in this almost-not-quite-embrace of her arch-enemy.

“Shh,” he mumbles, a hesitant hand patting her wound. She is ready to flinch at the touch, but it doesn't sting. Obviously it doesn't sting, she thinks with a mental roll of eyes. She has just gone through a painful Dittany treatment to make it stop stinging, after all! “Are you okay?”

She nods against his neck, taking a deep breath—

And freezes.

Citrus has invaded her senses.

That jerks her out of her frenzy, and she wrenches herself away from the flustered wizard. He looks so lost when he stares at her that she almost feels that her coldness to this man is unnecessary. He is, after all, a really compassionate human being who has had so many loved ones in these twenty years of his life that Pansy can't even hope to garner in next forty of hers. Almost.

He sighs, shaking his head, and proceeds to fasten the cap of Dittany back on; Pansy notices that the cap is still in his hand. She clears her throat.

He looks up, sharply, as if he'd been waiting for her to—

She clears her throat again, and looks away with a frown; she has never done well with gratitude. “Thank you,” she says, her voice practically croaking because of her awfully parched throat.

He makes an amused sound at the back of his throat, which causes her to narrow her eyes at him. “What?” she snaps, immediately grimacing at the quality of her voice.

He shrugs, but somehow — she can't fathom how — she feels as if it is feigned. “Appreciation from you is a rare expression. I'm surprised, is all,” he says, tossing her a smug smirk over his shoulder while he walks away to place the Essence of Dittany back.

She snorts, then. “Yeah? Consider yourself lucky, then?”

His head snaps back to her and there's this weird sort of exasperation spread over his features that she actually flinches. “Very lucky, indeed, Parkinson.”

She scowls at the back of his black-haired head. “Yes, you are.”

He hums in response, but by the way the muscles of his back are rippling through the light-blue linen shirt he's wearing, she knows he has an idea that she's going to fucking fight if he doesn't fucking stomach her thankfulness!

“So… your father?” he asks casually, while he takes time with manually putting the potion vial back in its place. “That's your reason for joining us.”

Pansy snorts. “Haven't you been listening?” she barks out, rage simmering beneath her skull because — he's right. Potter's right and her father is the reason why she wants Voldemort dead. But no one has ever known that. And she isn't about to make him her most loyal confidant, either. “It's Draco. He's brought us all here. We're here for him.”

“Say, if he wouldn't have”—she can hear bitterness in his tone — what the fuck? — “then you would have sided by You-Know-Who, and plotted my murder?”

She sighs. “Don't mince my words, Potter. I told you I was scared in that moment when I didn't care for your life.” She shakes her head, thinking about the shuddering, weeping mess that she'd become in Blaise's arms in the dungeons, later that day. “Stop holding a grudge against that.”

She looks back at her now healed shoulder. She grimaces when her eyes fall on the grime-laden strap of her poor bra. There's this filthy mixture of dried blood — a brick red — and gelatinous streams of Essence of Dittany — a deep, ugly yellow — spread over the entire area, and she feels light-headed at the sight of it. Well, not quite, because this is her body. But, she would have if it was someone else's.

“Need help, there?”

She jumps. Potter's standing not a foot away from her, his lips twisted into an amused smirk while his eyes pointedly look at the bloodied patch of her skin before looking back at her face. She frowns, and contemplates how blissful it would be if someone else casts the Scourgify for her, and she doesn't have to look at that grotesque picture again, before giving him a single, jerky nod.

He takes another step ahead, reducing the distance further, and she gasps.

“What?” he murmurs, his eyes scanning her face with that perfectly feigned innocence, and she can't understand what the hell is he bloody playing at, without even touching his wand, until—

The flat of his index finger runs over the filth near her collarbone, and he—

Merlin, he hooks the bloody finger under the strap of her bra, and she gasps again, and—

“Potter,” she whispers, breathless, “what are you doing?”

“I've understood,” he breathes out. She can see her reflection — her blown, wide eyes — in his specs and through his specs, in his eyes. “Why a seventeen-year old girl would have asked for the death of a fellow seventeen-year old boy. I've never held a grudge against that, Pansy.”

His irises are thin, sheer rings of dark, deep, forest bloody green around his pupils, and her breath's been knocked the fuck out of her lungs as he leans in, and—

“What?” she breathes back, and she doesn't know what the fuck she's doing, but she places her right palm flat over his frantically thudding heart. Maybe she's been away from intimate human contact for too long?

His mouth opens, tongue flicking over his lower, pink, plump lip, and—

“I'm sorry,” he murmurs, and—

She is pretty sure that she meets him halfway.

His lips are demanding, desperate, and they freaking suck the life out of her. Only, she does it back.

She's grabbing him by his shirt, and hooking a leg around his thighs, hence pulling him closer; they're meshed together, when—

His teeth scrape against her lower lip, and her entire body bloody vibrates, and—

She pushes him away with a deep, gasping intake of breath. He's still way too close — not even a foot away, the bastard! — and all she can inhale is a burst of damn citrus!

“What?” she intones with the next gasp leaving her.

He smiles, and — it is so tentative that is stupid — eyes never leaving hers, he rakes a hand through his always tousled hair, and—

“I'm sorry about your parents,” he states as if he's stating the weather, and she—

She wants to smack him in his face, but she lets out a startled laugh instead. “What?” And she needs to expand her vocabulary, but—

He shifts, his hands coming to brace against the bed, caging her. “And this is for being a judgemental arse about you Slytherins.”

She takes in a stuttering breath, and, “You've bloody lost it,” she murmurs before he latches back onto her wet lips, and—

She pushes him away, again.

"What the actual fuck, Potter?" she gasps against his lips, and his finger — yes, the one which previously has been sodding trapped between her skin and strap of her bra — comes up between their awfully close faces and he tosses his glasses off.

"And this"— she actually gulps at the low, growling timbre of his voice — "is for new beginnings," he finishes before fusing their lips together again, and she's just about to push him away, just about to stop this bloody madness, but—

Draco is murmuring something into Granger's ear which is making her cheeks put tomatoes to shame, and Blaise's head is in Weaslette's lap while her fingers trace the contours of his cheekbones, and Padma Patil is freaking doubling in laughter at the Weasel's malfunctioning jokes, and—

Pansy pauses as the images flash through her head.

There has to be a fucking inner monologue of Potter's governing his actions, there has to be, because — otherwise? Otherwise this is so absurd that it is not even funny!

But, but, Pansy is going to kiss him back because she needs to. Because their world has been shoved so off its axis over these past three years, that this weirdness they're causing isn't going to sum up to more than mere collateral damage in the long run. And collateral damage, she can deal with.

Because—

He's right.

Amidst this all, they deserve a shot at new beginnings. She does, at least. Even if it involves Potter, of all people.

She does make a mental note of querying him about this 'inner monologue' — you know, to ensure that they're on the same page, and this isn't a freakish, impromptu Bombarda happening in his head!

Then she kisses him back. With abandon.


THE END